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Govt increasing access to justice

Written by Albert Pule
South Africans can look forward to better access to justice as government rolls out a number of programmes.

Speaking at the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster media briefing, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said government was making progress in making justice a reality to all South Africans.

“We are satisfied that we are making good progress in increasing access to the Criminal Justice System (CJS).

She added that government would ensure that all citizens, irrespective of race and location, have access to justice.

“The transformation of the CJS will strengthen the confidence of our people in the fair and impartial administration of justice for all,” the Minister said.

One of the ways in which government will ensure that people have access to justice is by introducing high courts in both Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

In previous years, residents of the two provinces had to travel long distances to access high court services at the North Gauteng High Court situated in Pretoria.

“We are pleased to announce that the hardship being endured by communities of Limpopo and Mpumalanga who have to travel to Pretoria at great expense to access High Court services will soon be over.”

From next month, the high court in Limpopo will start operating while these services in Mpumalanga will come later.

“The Limpopo seat of the high court will start operating from the beginning of April 2015 while that of Mpumalanga will follow a year later.

“We are also working hard to ensure that all people are not deterred from accessing justice by financial constraints.”

She added that the JCPS cluster was on track to increase the number of small claims courts in each district.

Three hundred and thirty small claims courts have been established across the country, 37 of which were created in the past financial year until the end of January 2015.

“We are fast approaching our goal of having a functioning small claims court in each of South Africa's magisterial districts.

“I am pleased to announce that we only need to establish other 60 small claims courts to be 100 per cent compliant countrywide in this regard.”

Last month, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development also launched a court annexed mediation services in North West aimed at resolving civil disputes.

“Through such meditation civil disputes, in particular maintenance and claims against the state, can be resolved quicker and more amicably and the huge costs of litigation will be averted,” the Minister said.

She added that the mediation services would be rolled out to other provinces in the next financial year.

The JCPS Cluster includes the Department of Justice and Correctional Services, Police, Defence and Military Veterans, Home Affairs and State Security.